Yiaga Africa, a non-profit civic hub, has said the Nigerian government needs a comprehensive strategy to achieve equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across the country.
The institution said, “Nigeria needs a COVID-19 vaccine management plan to achieve vaccination targets.”
It emphasised that gender, disability and social aspects of the citizens should be considered and included as the country continued its vaccination programme.
The information was contained in a press statement signed by Cynthia Mbamalu, Director of Programmes, Yiaga Africa, and made available to SaharaReporters on Thursday.
In the statement, the organisation disclosed that combating the virus by inoculating people with AstraZeneca drugs is not enough to cater for the challenges, without looking at the health workers to administer it among other considerations.
“After months of waiting, Nigeria has finally received its first batch of nearly 4m COVID-19 vaccines via the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility as part of efforts to combat the pandemic which has ravaged the world.
“The Federal Government has commenced the distribution of the vaccines across the country. It has set a target of vaccinating 40% of the population by the end of 2021 and 70% of Nigeria’s estimated population before the end of 2022. It has also announced that it expects 41 million doses of the vaccine through the African Union, which is sourcing them from manufacturers in India.”
It went further to say that, “So far, about a quarter of the vaccines (1.084 million doses) have been distributed to eight states, with Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory accounting for two-thirds of the number distributed and Nasarawa, Benue, Adamawa, Cross River, Ondo and Ekiti states accounting for the remaining one-third.
“Also, the vaccinations have begun in Lagos, Nasarawa, Ekiti and Cross River states and the Federal Capital Territory while the other states have confirmed receipt of the vaccines.”
It also established the fact that there should be a piece of digital information to know those who should be prioritised in the vaccination exercise.
“However, there is still little detail about how these vaccination targets will be achieved beyond a registration website that provides information on which groups will be given priority. The groups include frontline healthcare workers and those who work in high-risk areas like entry points and contact tracing teams, and COVID-19 vaccination teams.
“This group is followed by security personnel, teachers, and the elderly, especially those with comorbidities – cancer, diabetes, asthma, HIV and AIDS, and immunocompromised patients. The general population then follows after the first two groups.
“As the Federal Government commences the distribution of the vaccines across the country, it is imperative to ensure Nigeria achieves equitable distribution of the vaccines across the country, emphasising gender, disability, and social inclusion.
“Achieving this requires developing a detailed plan for vaccine rollout, addressing misinformation on the COVID-19 vaccine, and restoring the people’s confidence in the government. These directly impact the government’s ability to meet its vaccination targets and effectively combat the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
It also hinted that the nation’s health sector needs to be reimbursed for the country to achieve an overall success against coronavirus.
“There is also a need to strengthen Nigeria’s health sector and systems for efficient vaccine introduction, providing accountability and transparency on the management of funds earmarked by and donated to the government to fight the pandemic.
“Also, there is a need to create avenues for citizen’s participation and public enlightenment and education campaign that will provide adequate information on the vaccine and the importance of curbing the spread of COVID-19.
“To this end, Yiaga Africa’s recent Vaccine Management Policy Brief (Issue 1) discusses amongst other things, the challenges facing the commencement of the vaccination programme and proffers recommendations for improved vaccine management in Nigeria. The Policy Brief will be followed by a policy dialogue on the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Nigeria, especially as new issues emerge.
“This policy brief will be an excellent resource for assisting the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, healthcare policymakers, legislators, and public health experts to manage the COVID-19 vaccination program in Nigeria effectively.”